I wanted to ask Wylie Walleye about the history of some of our most popular tourist attractions here such as African Safari Park, the Miller Ferry and the Jet Express. How did they get started here in Port Clinton?
Thanks very much!
It’s been getting a little chilly out here lately, swimming along the Lake Erie shoreline, so it’s nice to have a hot question to keep me busy!
You’ve picked three of the mainstays of Vacationland, all favorites of mine — and favorites of so many other folks who enjoy the area. The Miller Ferry and the Jet Express are two of the ways we can easily access the adventures of the fabulous Lake Erie Islands, and African Safari Wildlife Park is so fascinating, with all of those friendly exotic animals to meet and greet!
Find a comfortable seat, since this is going to take a while! Here goes!
An amazing day is guaranteed at African Safari Wildlife Park!
This special getaway has been delighting families and especially boys and girls, for more than 50 years! Everyone loves to feed giraffe, zebras, bison and alpacas in the Drive-Thru Safari. And get up close and personal with kangaroos, lemurs, tortoises, colorful birds and other incredible animals in the Walk-Thru Safari.
This past year, the Dino Tour joined the amazing array of African wildlife, with an animated Tyrannosaurus Rex thrilling visitors on the special Dinosaur Trail. More than 20 moving, roaring, life-sized prehistoric creatures have been on display throughout the park’s Walk-Thru Dino Trail that is part of Dinosaur Takeover.
Catch educational shows and special animal encounters throughout the day at African Safari Wildlife Park, 267 Lightner Rd., Port Clinton. To learn more, visit its website at: africansafariwildlifepark.com
African Safari Wildlife Park takes time off due to the winter weather, but it will reopen on March 24.
Mary Ann Market, the Queen of the Miller Fleet
The Miller Ferry Line began more than a century ago, and it is the premier ferry line servicing the Lake Erie Islands today. It provides the most affordable fares to South Bass Island and Middle Bass Island, and runs continuously throughout the day in spring, summer and fall, weather permitting.
It all began when the William M. Miller was launched in Lake Erie in 1954. It was an important part of the modernization and expansion of a ferry line that had begun a half-century earlier harvesting Lake Erie ice long before we relied on refrigerators. The ice delivery service eventually became a water taxi, followed on St. Patrick’s Day 1945, when the line’s first car ferry, the South Shore, made the scene, a 65-footer that ferry could accommodate 12 cars. Ferries that followed were The West Shore in 1947, the William M. Miller in 1954 and the Put-in-Bay in 1959.
Today, the Queen of the Fleet is the quiet yet powerful Mary Ann Market, a 140-foot ferry completed in 2022. Named after the matriarch of the Market family that operates the Miller Ferry, it can carry more than two dozen vehicles and 600 passengers from Catawba Island, where there is ample free parking, to the Lime Kiln Dock on the south side of South Bass Island.
For schedules and prices, visit millerferry.com
The Jet Express provides a speedy ride to Lake Erie Islands
The Jet Express was established in 1988 and began its first season of operation in 1989 with a new $3 million water-jet powered catamaran, the Jet Express. It soon added the $3.2 million Jet Express II in 1992. A partnership with the Put-in-Bay Port Authority aided in the addition of the $2 million Jet Express III in 2002. In 2009, a partnership with the Lorain Port Authority, brought in the $1.9 million Jet Express IV to the fleet.
Jet Express service, based at 3 Monroe St., Port Clinton, has expanded from the original Port Clinton to Put-in-Bay route, which includes docking in downtown Put-in-Bay, to include the mainland ports of Sandusky (2005), and Lorain (2009), with regular service to Kelley’s Island (2006), Put-in-Bay, and Cedar Point (2016).
Additionally, Jet Express offers Excursion Adventure Cruises. These cruises are theme -based and visit a variety of U.S. and Canadian ports throughout Lake Erie and its tributaries.
For schedules and pricing, visit jet-express.com.
Wylie Walleye and his wild, wacky friends!